WRC

Rally Sardinia: Skoda preview

After 'long-haul' events in Mexico and New Zealand returns to Europe for the next four gravel rounds of the World Rally Championship. Round five, Rallye d'Italia-Sardinia (April 28-May 2) again sees the Fabia WRC 05 being driven by Armin Schwarz...

After 'long-haul' events in Mexico and New Zealand returns to Europe for the next four gravel rounds of the World Rally Championship. Round five, Rallye d'Italia-Sardinia (April 28-May 2) again sees the Fabia WRC 05 being driven by Armin Schwarz and Janne Tuohino.

The Sardinia event joined the World Rally Championship for the first time last October and was run in hot and sunny conditions. The gravel roads of the millionaire's paradise island offered a complete contrast to the asphalt of Sanremo where the Italian round of the WRC had been held previously. It proved to be a difficult event for many crews who quickly discovered that the roads used for the event are narrow and lined with big rocks that proved extremely damaging to suspension.

Armin Schwarz led the Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team here last year although a severe dose of 'flu ensured that it was not a happy experience for the German driver. Janne Tuohino is making his Sardinia debut and is looking forward to this event.

Sardinia marks the start of the second quarter of the season and one that is run completely on gravel roads with four events taking place in just nine weeks. After Sardinia the series moves to Cyprus, Turkey and Greece -- each event a tough challenge that demands reliability and stamina.

Armin said: "We discovered last year that this new event wasn't like the old Sardinia Rally. The roads are narrow and twisty with a lot of loose gravel on the surface. But running the rally earlier in the year might make a big difference. We didn't have good weather in the pre-rally test so maybe this will be the first wet event of the season. Either way it is important to try and be fast from the start."

Janne said: "Since New Zealand we had a good test in Sardinia, quite close to Olbia, and I did about 300kms which was important for me to learn about this soft and sandy surface. I have never done this event before but the roads are quite narrow and technical which is good for my driving style. I used to be quite sideways which was good for the fans but not for the times! It certainly wouldn't work here."

Martin Muehlmeier, Head of the Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team, said: "The long-haul events obviously were not so good for us but now we are back in Europe we are looking for better results. We made a specific test in Sardinia ahead of this rally to give Armin and Janne extra time in the car so that their experience can be improved on the exact surface of the rally, something that was not possible in Mexico and New Zealand because the regulations do not permit testing there."

Rallye d'Italia-Sardinia in detail:

Rallye d'Italia-Sardinia is based at the port of Olbia in the north-east of the island where tourists gather to enjoy the stunning scenery, restaurants and boutiques. The 2005 rally -- taking place just six months after the WRC's first visit to the island, begins in the evening of Thursday April 28 with a ceremonial start on the picturesque harbour front at Porto Rotondo, about 17kms north of Olbia.

On Friday there are six stages (139.70kms) run as two groups of three.

On Saturday there are five more tests including two runs over the longest stage of the event, the 38.77kms Tandalo stage (leg total 144.01kms).

After two days in the mountains south and south west of Olbia Sunday's short final leg is run to the west with six stages (66.32kms) before the event finishes in Porto Rotondo at 2.30pm.

-skoda-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Armin Schwarz , Janne Tuohino